CUMBERLAND ‚Äď Portola Packaging, Inc. will shut down its Portola Tech International cosmetics container division by the end of August, releasing all of its employees and liquidating manufacturing equipment.
The division is based at Portola Tech‚Äôs Martin Street plant and at another manufacturing facility in Nanhai, China, which employ a combined 225 workers, including 51 locally, a spokeswoman for human resources said.
Workers were apparently caught off-guard when they learned they were being let go several days ago.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs shocking,‚ÄĚ the spokeswoman said.
Portola Tech‚Äôs Naperville, Ill.-based parent company issued as statement saying that all the business assets of the division will be liquidated by the end of the year, including injection molding machines and vacuum metalizing equipment.
"We've decided to cease our luxury skin care closure and container manufacturing operations,‚ÄĚ Portola President Kevin Kwilinski said in a statement posted on the company‚Äôs web site. ‚ÄúThis will enable Portola to focus all of the company's resources on its core business which is producing value-added closures and bottles for non-carbonated beverage applications.‚ÄĚ After the phaseout of the cosmetics division, Portola‚Äôs holdings will include 10 manufacturing facilities around the world, including three in the U.S., three in Canada and one each in Mexico, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the Czech Republic.
Portola Tech designs and manufactures specialty jars and closures for the cosmetics and personal care industries. It formed in 2003, when Portola Packaging purchased Tech Industries Inc. of Woonsocket.
The Portola Tech division used to be housed at the 1889 Alice Mill at 85 Fairmount St. which was destroyed in a spectacular fire last June, a few months after Portola sold the vacant property to Steve Triedman of Providence. Triedman had planned to launch a wood pellet manufacturing operation at the site, now reduced to rubble.
In 2009, Portola Tech moved its headquarters and U.S. manufacturing plant to Cumberland. The Nanhai plant opened in late 2010.
The specialty of parent company Portola Packaging, headquartered in Naperville, Ill., is manufacturing caps and closures for non-carbonated beverages that allow consumers to easily detect whether the seal has been tampered with or broken.
European Plastics News reported that the cosmetics division makes up less than 10 percent of Portola‚Äôs global sales, and that its beverage closures division is thriving. The company‚Äôs estimated 2011 sales were $310 million, the trade publication said.